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The International Writers Magazine
: Fashion

Fashion’s Bottom Line
Rachael d'Cruze

For once, fashion isn’t favouring the stick thin. Instantly recognisable photographs of elongated, skeletal models such as Gisele Bundchen and Erin Wassen have been filed. Jennifer Lopez has insured her coveted, voluptuous backside for one billion dollars. The bottom is at the forefront of fashion.

The days of the waif-like model are marked. Formidable, bootylicious buttocks are the new objects of desire. Astonishingly, the media (as a whole) isn’t currently being accused of bombarding young girls with unrealistic images of unashamedly gaunt models – heroin chic is dead. Instead, we are flooded with photographs of Kylie’s ‘Rear of the Year’ and J.Lo’s perfect peach of an ass. It’s about time we celebrated the natural figure of a woman, we’ve got bums and Li’l Kim couldn’t have picked a better time to release Shake Ya Bum Bum.

There is no doubt that big bums are big news at the moment and with the amount of celebrity endorsement they are receiving we are showing no signs of returning to the days of "does my bum look big in this?" In an interview with The Observer James Brown, launch editor of Loaded said, "Jennifer Lopez’s backside is an American landmark.’ And who are we to argue? But let it be said that the fetishism of the backside did not start with the endorsement of the beautiful Miss Lopez; it started inadvertently on the catwalk.

Back in 1997 Alexander McQueen send models down the catwalk wearing jeans so low that they displayed several inches of bum crack. Although these models were, obviously, stick-thin (and didn’t actually look unlike a posse of pre-pubescent skateboarders with seriously baggy trousers and ridiculously low Calvin’s, I would love to say that they were builder-esque but they weren’t) something happened to the fashion industry that day – the hipster jean was born. The thong, previously loved for banishing the demon that was VPL became the showiest item around. Butterfly embossed and diamenté encrusted thongs and g-strings drew attention to the new lowness of jeans and drew the eyes to the new erogenous zone. Even this wasn’t enough though; lower back tattoo’s gave the daring and dedicated the edge on the ‘look at my ass’ attention grabbing techniques.
Sisqo’s Thong Song was an apt anthem for the summer of 1999, when you couldn’t help but become acquainted with the rear of every woman you encountered. That was the liberating summer of the thong bikini where those with backsides Worthing of airing managed to get some sun on their cheeks. Our bums have come along way since 99’ and rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot has taken the ass fixation to new, slightly worrying levels. Released just in time for summer his song Baby Got Back features startlingly blatant lyrics:
I like big butts and I can not lie
You others brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waste
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung, wanna pull up tough
‘Cause you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she’s wearing
I’m hooked and I can’t stop staring

His accompanying video makes just how ass obsessed we have become even more apparent. He raps from a landscape of big, brazen, beautiful, bouncy bums and even delivers the most poignant lyrics standing in a bum crack. Its not just Sir Mix-A-Lot who is totally booty obsessed either, a whole host of prominent hip-hop stars are rapping about perfect posteriors and even those who are not still give centre to their dancers perfect posteriors. The bum is now imbedded in an array of elements of contemporary culture – the new erogenous zone looks set to stay.

Sadly, when it comes to rounded rumps biggest isn’t necessarily best. There is no disputing that to be in the running for rear of the year you have to be a healthy size (this is one fashion that the catwalk clique cannot lead) as the bare fact is, the bum is fat – but, alas, it needs to be perk and the more gravity defying the better. Obviously this is problematic for the vast majority of British women, who long for the perfect, fuller, rounder, higher butt. This isn’t the first time women have craved a fuller behind – the Victorians wore bustles to create the impression of some booty where there previously was none. The fashion wheel has turned a full circle but now we’re prepared to go to much more extreme lengths to get our asses into shape.

The plastic surgery industry is thriving from our new backside fetishism. Rear implants are it in the chop and change world of cosmetic surgery and they look good too. Fat is taken from a ‘donor’ area of the body and then placed into the bottom, lifting the shape and increasing the size. It’s rumoured that Kylie is a fan of this procedure and it’s proving to be very popular with the posteriorly challenged. Other less extreme, not to mention less expensive, options include Wonderbra’s Bottom Cleavage knickers, which give a lift from the seat of knickers to create the illusion of a fuller behind and ample ass cleave – who needs boobs? Perhaps, until now, one of the best-kept secrets in a gay mans wardrobe was padded pants. Working on the sample principle as the bustle this is simply the equivalent to a padded bra, definitely not the sexiest or most comfortable lingerie to wear on a hot summers day though.

For most some sensible toning and a lot of squats will leave our asses semi-peach like and good enough to give the MTV girls a run for their money (okay maybe not, call us optimists). Others will use the bum fetish as a totally negative platform from which to spiral into new depths of poor body image. Take it from fetishes come and go and, sadly, one day the pictures of Gisele and Erin will be dusted off, heroin chick will be reborn and we’ll all fetishise a new body part or by then total nudity maybe the only option. To think a few hundred years ago British men blushed at the flash of an ankle and the thong was on par with the peephole bra!
© Rachael D’Cruze June 17th 2004

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